Urban INC moving forward mobility problems through design thinking

Urban INC moving forward mobility problems through design thinking

Urban Insights Center
Location: Bucharest

In March 2017 Urban INC engaged local businesses and urban design professionals in a design thinking process tackling the mobility problems for emerging northern business districts of Bucharest.


Bucharest is Romania’s most productive city and responsible for almost one fourth of the country’s GDP. Overall in 2016 the city’s office areas were accommodating more than 200,000 people. The workshop hosted by Urban INC focused on the emerging business district areas in the North of Bucharest, which house a large proportion of multinational corporations, including IT sector companies (30%), Business Process Outsourcing (20%), Shared Service Centers (15%) and financial services (15%). To the Dimitrie Pompeiu and Floreasca - Barbu Văcărescu areas alone some 88,000 people commute daily.

In spite of accelerated private investment in these areas, aiming to match the demand for office space, public investment in infrastructure and utilities has been slow to pick up. As a result, companies and employees face the lack of an integrated planning model: reduced accessibility and mobility, increased travel time to and from work, decreased productivity, low quality routes for pedestrians, reduced public transport alternatives, limited parking space. Bucharest went up in 2017 to being the world’s fifth most congested city, according to the Tomtom traffic index which is based on crowd sourced information from drivers. The extra travel time for a worker adds up to 218 hours a year or 27 full time working days.

The design process for the workshop included preparation interviews, a detailed review of user insights, as well strategy and ideation processes conducted with a range of urban design professionals. The solutions formulated at the end of the workshop tackled three distinct strategies: community building, tactical urbanism, strategic planning. These build upon each other, and reflect on the principles of Urban INC work:

  • Connecting top-down and bottom-up initiatives

  • Step by step approach which allows for better grounding of principles

  • Encouragement of small scale, low-cost prototypes which allow for testing and improving.

Community building strategies tackle the need for more collective action, such as creating tools for identifying idea generators, mobilizing peers, involving stakeholders in charge with corporate social responsibility. Tactical urbanism is based on guerrilla action which helps build on a local manifesto, strategy and local identity for the business district area. Finally, these build on a more thorough engagement with strategic planning. This include integrated mobility, planning for more compact development, increased pedestrian and cycle routes, better integration of local and regional transportation systems.  

The workshop was designed as a part of the project Urban Insights: Building partnership for user-centred design, financed through the NGO Fund in Romania via EEA Grants and managed by the Foundation for Civil Society Development.

Urban INC stands for Urban Insights Centre and is born out of our experience in developing instruments for urban change in Romania and Central and Eastern European countries, at large. We work towards formulating meaningful insights on urban dynamics in Romania and we bring together stakeholders and citizens to experiment, learn and scale new solutions.

Posted March 15, 2017

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